by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Babylon Revisited Visions of America Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Part.Paragraph)
So much for the effort and ingenuity of Montmartre. All the catering to vice and waste was on an utterly childish scale, and he suddenly realized the meaning of the word "dissipate" – to dissipate into thin air; to make nothing out of something. In the little hours of the night every move from place to place was an enormous human jump, an increase of paying for the privilege of slower and slower motion. (1.56)
Both in Charlie's personal life and in the world in which he lives dissipation is a central theme of "Babylon Revisited." Nothing has been made out of something in the sense that Charlie's wife is dead, he has lost his daughter, and his fortune is gone. The stock market crash, means that much of America's wealth has dissipated as well, disappeared into nothing.
Going out of the restaurant, a man and a woman unexpectedly hailed him.
"Well, the old Wales!"
Sudden ghosts out of the past. (2.38-41)
There's something dark about Lorraine and Duncan right from the start. Fitzgerald's word "ghost" is carefully placed here. It's important that they seek out Charlie – repeatedly – in this story, as though he cannot escape them. They increasingly seem like predators, preying on the weak. We can't forget, however, that Charlie began the story by looking for people like Duncan and Lorraine.
They were waiting. Marion sat behind the coffee service in a dignified black dinner dress that just faintly suggested mourning. (3.1)
Interesting – what is Marion mourning? This brings Helen's death to mind, for which we know she blames Charlie. But we have to ask, what else has been lost that Marion may be mourning? In the global context, an entire decade of decadence has been lost in the stock market crash. Marion may be mourning on more than a personal scale.